Pastoral Care: Boundaries

"You Teach Others How To Treat You" overrule areas in their lives where they shouldn't -- thus the concept of "boundaries." Henry Cloud and John Townsend argue that if proper personal boundaries are reset -- if a person can draw appropriate lines where they cannot be controlled or manipulated -- then most dysfunctional relationships can get better. They also argue that a person with too tight or too loose boundaries probably doesn't Read more [...]

Coming Out Of The World

In the Garden of Eden, it was not only Adam and Eve's rebellion at work, they were deceived by the devil who appeared in the form of a serpent. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1) He was the one who tempted them to disobey God, and because they obeyed his voice instead of God's they came under his authority. When you are born Read more [...]

Dynamics of Attraction

As mentioned in the previous post, there are several major things working against people getting married, those are trends that the church has to fight. What about at an individual level? I'd like to look at the dynamics of relationships and what the pitfalls are. There are many different kinds of men and women out there, so it's impossible to cover every scenario, but let's look at a few basic dynamics. The most important issue is that of attraction. What causes one person to become attracted to Read more [...]

Why People Aren’t Getting Married

There are a lot of young Christian people out there who aren't getting married. It's a borderline epidemic. It was not always this way. It is a problem associated with our time and culture, and we're not doing enough to address it. Why aren't people getting married?   1. The Courtship Philosophy. Honestly, I think the problem is partly of our own making. Especially since the rise of the courtship movement we've been sending young Christians the message that they should not be pursuing a relationship Read more [...]

Salvation

The Problem Christianity is unique among all of the world's religions because its portrait of the nature of man is so dim, and its remedy so dramatic. In Christianity, getting right with God is not a matter of self-improvement or even self denial. It is not a matter of offering some kind of sacrifice to God to appease Him. Christians recognize that every human problem ultimately goes back to one thing: sin. Most people are quick to say "Nobody's perfect," but looking around us, and inwardly, we Read more [...]

Fishers of Men

Jesus said to his disciples "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." I believe that this encounter is more than a statement of what he was going to do, but it was a reflection of what is already going on in their encounter. What can we learn about "catching" men from Jesus encounter with the fishermen in Luke 5:1-11? You need disciples. Fish do not just appear. Someone has to work to bring them in. Nets and boats do not  catch fish by themselves. You need nets, and they need to be prepared. Read more [...]

Growing Ministry

Often we talk about about growing a ministry, this equates a ministry with a thing... a large church or program is considered a ministry. However, I'd like to suggest that we focus on the human aspect -- the ministry result that happens to a person. Ministry does not actually happen unless someone is actually touched or changed as a result of what you are doing. This is what we want to cultivate. We don't want to grow a ministry, we want to grow ministry. We want the amount of ministry that happens Read more [...]

History

History is one of the most important disciplines. It is important because our memory of what happened directly informs our viewpoint of what should happen. Everyone has a particular understanding of past based on what they have experienced and what they have learned, even if it is not well developed. If our understanding of what happened and why it happened is incorrect, our understanding of what we should be doing now will also be incorrect. History, then, is a convenient place for historians to Read more [...]

Action Teams

Advancing God's Kingdom is a multifaceted an seemingly overwhelming responsibility at times. We look at what needs to be done and we are staggered with the enormity of "How can I do all of this" You can't. That's why you need a fellowship of people who each do a part. And ideally set it up so that their part doesn't have to go on indefinitely. First, let's identify three kinds of people in the church. People to whom you are ministering. People who growing by helping build ministries People Read more [...]

An Empowering Ministry Model

Maybe you read the last post and you are thinking, "This guy must be house church." Or "He doesn't know how much work being a pastor is." I'm not, and I do. I'm just realizing that the core problem we need to solve is how to give rather than consolidate responsibilities. What's needed is a new conception of the leader of the church. So I'm working through an alternative model of how to enable people to grow. Here are my working thoughts. The leader of the church should be the conductor of the Read more [...]

Paid Pastor Problems

If you've been around enough churches you know that the perennial problem is getting everyone involved. Pastors look for strategies to get people involved, but sometimes it feels like pretty much nothing you can do, outside of becoming a cult, will get more than 20% of people doing anything. The team and I have been reflecting on this lately, and I'm starting to have some thoughts about what needs to happen. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to hit some sacred cows. The firs thing is that I think Read more [...]

Wesleyan Revival Structures

Much has been said of "Apostolic Movements" of late. These are supposed to be a restoration of the pattern of the first apostles. Too often these "apostolic" movements are just large churches built around an extraordinary leader who has planted a few satellites. What is needed is an explosive first century style revival movement, where the Gospel spreads like a flame so fast that can not be extinguished. I believe the closest thing we have to a well documented apostolic movement in modern times is Read more [...]

Freedom Manual – Coming Out of the World

In the Garden of Eden, it was not only Adam and Eve’s rebellion at work, they were deceived by the devil who appeared in the form of a serpent. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1) He was the one who tempted them to disobey God, and because they obeyed his voice instead of God’s they came under his authority. When you are born Read more [...]

Freedom Manual – Salvation

The Problem Christianity is unique among all of the world’s religions because its portrait of the nature of man is so dim, and its remedy so dramatic. In Christianity, getting right with God is not a matter of self-improvement or even self denial. It is not a matter of offering some kind of sacrifice to God to appease Him. Christians recognize that every human problem ultimately goes back to one thing: sin. Most people are quick to say “Nobody’s perfect,” but looking around us, and inwardly, Read more [...]

Reflections on the Church and Political History

I think our first priority as Christians is the salvation of souls. I believe that's God's first priority. It's the reason He sent his Son. My view of political and international relations flows backwards from that. Fortunately we have 2000 years of history (after Christ) to reflect on to help examine the fruit of different beliefs and approaches. I like to examine my ideas through that filter as well. First, we know that that without Christ the world was lost. This includes everyone except believing Read more [...]

Careers and the Search for Significance

There are thousands and thousands of different job roles out there in our increasingly diverse economy, and it is impossible to understand, much less explain all of the complexities of these various job roles and their significance. Finding a career path, and a job within that path is as much an art as it is a science. It is very hard to answer the question "What do you want to do?" when you do not understand the options of what you could do, and more importantly the significance of taking any of Read more [...]

A Well Rounded Education

In this country we study for approximately 16 years before entering the career field, and in fact it is getting longer now with more and more people going to professional school. Yet, it is remarkable how little we know when we graduate. We have very little in the way of practical skills, and we have major gaps in our understanding of the world at a theoretical level. At best, we have solid training in the area in which we majored. Now, regardless of specific skills, our academic education does in Read more [...]

Strategic Evangelism

To all of the observations in the last post, I would like to add one more that I believe is usually missed: evangelism is a team sport. In fact, when you look at the Biblical metaphor of the lost person as a "slave" to the world, evangelism is more like a prison break. If you were to break someone out of prison, you would very unlikely do it all on your own. You would develop a plan, marshall your resources, and spring the person out. I suggest that we do the same thing. This is what I'm Read more [...]

Survey of Evangelism Methods

There are several major theories of evangelism out there. Fundamentalist Evangelism - This method became popular in the early part of the 20th century and has carried on in conservative groups down to this day. The basic approach is that everyone must hear the gospel. It involves going door to door, passing out tracts, or accosting people on the street. The goal of each of these encounters is to get someone to pray a prayer of salvation with you. This generally requires a lot of stamina and courage Read more [...]

Five Levels of Demonic Oppression

The perennial question is Can a Christian have a demon? There are those (mostly non-Charismatics) who say categorically no. Usually, however, these people are also those who don't really believe much in demons at all. In reality, most of us deal with demons and their effects throughout our lives. I'd like to propose this scale: Possession Oppression Familiarity or "Stronghold" Externalization Victory Possession is what only a non-believer can experience. Where the demon can actually Read more [...]

Mike Bickle’s IHOP Eschatology

Mike Bickle has had a tremendous impact on the church in his generation. One that far outstrips what most of us could hope for. God called him at a very young age to be the pastor to the prophets of Kansas City. These Kansas City Prophets went on to shock the worldwide church with the divine word and power of God. Now that's not to say that things were all right. There were definitely issues, but it is to say that God used this team to do something very significant in the life of the church. Then Read more [...]

After Lakeland

Todd Bentley was exposed as being in the deception and sin of an inappropriate relationship with a female staff member. The anointed but hard-driving evangelist had fallen prey to the oldest of all sins. It's a sad story. It's sad for the church and it's especially sad for Todd Bentley, whose wife is separating from Him. What is especially interesting is the variety of responses that people have had to his fall. Steven Strang and J. Lee Grady of Charisma have used the opportunity to reiterate Read more [...]

Adult Christian Education

Despite the anti-intellectual impulses of many Christian groups, education is fundamental to what it means to be a Christian. When you are born again, you realize that you have been living in a lie for years, and that you essentially have none of the tools to live in the truth... So you hunger for education. The real question is what we mean by "education." In reality, there are two very different purposes for education, and therefore two different kinds of pursuits: The first reason to educated Read more [...]

Prosperity Problems

Throughout most of Church History the spiritual current, especially of the Catholic and Orthodox churches has been that the most spiritual possible lifestyle is to be poor. Keying off of Scriptures like "Blessed are the poor..." and "Sell everything you have and come follow me," the mindset has been that in order to truly follow Christ you must impoverish yourself. Now, of course, at any given time only a few are willing to do this at one time, and so they are considered the most Spiritual. This Read more [...]

Basic Dream Interpretation and Hermeneutics

For the past three nights, I've had dreams that I not only remembered, but were highly symbolic and seemed to have meaning.  In addition, when I awoke from the first dream I felt that I had had a God dream. I told my wife and I began to give the intepretation. It was strange because I rarely dream anymore and I have never interpreted a dream before. But this seemed to just flow off of my tongue, and speak to our situation. In fact, I believe this may have been triggered by a visit to a Bridge church Read more [...]

The Florida Outpouring

After years of seemingly nothing going on, the attention of the Charismatic world has turned once again to Lakeland, Florida. For those who remember, Lakeland had the first signs of what became the Toronto and Brownsville movements under the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne. At that time, the church was pastored by Karl Strader and called the "Carpenter's Home Church." Years later, and after some drama, Karl's son Stephen began pastoring a much smaller revival-oriented church called "Ignited Church" Read more [...]

How to Preach In The Spirit

Definition of Preaching When you go into a church for the first time, you can never be sure what is going to be offered from behind the pulpit as "the sermon." There is quite a wide spectrum of what is considered appropriate, depending on the speaker and the context. Often times what it called "preaching" is not really preaching at all. Here are seven different kinds of message you may hear in church: Moralizing -- If the speaker is not born again you will get moralizing. Two major messages Read more [...]

The Jesus Movement and The Vineyard

A little understood but very important chapter in American Church history is the Jesus Movement. Just as the hippie movement, which the devil staged to undermine American culture was peaking, God started a surprise -- he swept tens of thousands of hippies into the Kingdom of God. A young hippie named Lonnie Frisbee was crying out to God in the desert looking for reality, and God showed up. Although God used many people in many ways during the Jesus People, Lonnie Frisbee was the Pentecostal spark. Read more [...]

A Charismatic View of Evangelical History

It's very difficult for most of us to understand the church context we exist in because we live in a time where boundaries have been blurred. However, our past tells us a lot about who we are and should be, so it's important that we understand it. This is made more difficult by the fact that, if they do understand it, few Charismatics want to talk about the history that made them who they are because of some excesses that have cropped up. So you have to go on a treasure hunt. After nearly a decade Read more [...]

Best Worship Albums

Finding powerful worship albums is not that easy. You need a combination of great songwriting/selection, strong musicianship, hunger and responsiviness to the presence of God. Some worshipers are strong on one but weak on others. There are a lot of great worshipers in the Kansas City stream that tune into the presence of God, but it's so free form that the music suffers a bit. On other hand, more typical is sacrificing the presence for perfection. Israel Houghton may be an example of this. If he Read more [...]

The Trinity

The Trinity is one of the most foundational doctrines of Christianity and yet one of the hardest. It seems to involve a paradox: one God, three Persons. How can that be? How do we escape tritheism without nullifying the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit? The paradox is ancient. The Early Christians had many heretics who professed doctrines which either avowed tritheism or stole deity from the Second and Third persons of the Trinity. Even before the Early Christians, Neo-Platonists had grappled Read more [...]

Works

I recently got delivered from works.  At the request of a friend, I thought I'd reflect a little. Ever since I got saved, I knew I was saved by grace and not by works. Not anything I had done (except refusing to believe) had kept me from Christ.  And nothing i did (except agreeing to believe) had gotten me in. I knew my good works were like "filthy rags" before God and I was not supposed to be proud of them. But I also knew God expected His children to do good works for some sort of heavenly reward Read more [...]

Once Saved, Always Saved?

Once saved, always saved (OSAS). A popular tenet of evangelicalism, but is it true? Many books and articles can be found on the subject, but I believe a lay reader of the Bible will find Scriptures and concepts that make 'once saved, always saved' doubtful. In my opinion, it is an extreme position and a reaction to another unpalatable extreme position. 'Once saved, always saved' maintains you cannot lose your salvation. You cannot undo the work God has done or the seal He has given, even if you Read more [...]

Part XII – The Party System

God's Kingdom advances through a pattern of successive reforms. When a reform is completed, people who were believers in the reform, but who themselves are not reformers, but institutionalists, take over. With time it becomes a "party" system, where those who are in power reinforce their power against those who are not in power, not primarily because of an ideal, but because of the power itself. The "party" system is simple. To be a member of the party you must believe in what the party believes. Read more [...]

An Eschatology in a Nutshell

There are three basic systems for eschatology. Rather than elaborate on all of the nuances, I wanted to give the super simplified list to keep things clear. The most popular system has these basic features: Jesus is coming back to get the church and judge the world at any time. This will be followed by a golden age of his rule upon the Earth while Satan is bound. This will be followed by Satan's release and a final judgement of both the devil and the wicked. That is called premillennialism. Read more [...]

Part XI – How the Kingdoms Advance Geopolitically

Although the governments of men are legitimate political actors who influence history by seeking their own self interest, behind all political power is ultimately the war between the Spiritual forces of God and those of the devil. The devil's goal is consolidation of power under one head in order to control and eradicate all of mankind, and God's goal is bring people out of the devil's Kingdom and into relationship with him, which politically means less consolidated power and more in the hands of Read more [...]

Why Your Problem Won’t Go Away

When I was younger I was so zealous to be free of my sin, I think I would have done anything. Before we were married, I drove my wife an hour into some dump in New Jersey to a church that specialized in deliverance. They proceeded to cast the devil out of us and encourage us to read John Bevere books, but I don't think anything happened, excepted creeping out my bride to be. I resorted to this sort of thing because I knew we both had problems that needed help, and I thought if I could just get a Read more [...]

Part X – Authority and the Two Kingdoms

Since the rise of the shepherding movement in the 1970's the church has been uniquely aware of spiritual authority. The Shepherds looked over to the Jesus Movement, saw the born again hippies and their anti-authority view of the world, and realized that something was wrong with the picture. The answer was to teach people that you could not be submitted to Jesus if you were not submitted to man. What formed around this teaching then was a heirarchy with members submitted to cell group leaders who Read more [...]

Freedom in Christ

The gap between the daily experience of most Christians and the potential experience of Christians is so great that it poses a bit of a puzzle. Aside from lamenting it, is there anything we can do to rectify it? Neil Anderson has developed what is probably the most advanced model available for helping believers experience the fullness of who they are called to be in Christ: Breaking alliance with the demonic realm and it's many inroads Renouncing Lies Forgiving Dealing with Rebellion Dealing Read more [...]

Part IX – Spiritual Power and Healing

We know from Daniel, that one of the most righteous, "prayed up" men on earth at the time had to waith three weeks for an answer due to warfare being waged over delivering the answer to his prayer. This gives us a unique window into what is really going on when we pray. It paints a more complex picture than we normally assume. We assume too quickly that when a prayer is not answered, it's because it was "not God's will." In situations where God's will is ambiguous that may be reasonable to expect, Read more [...]

Subtexts and Apologies

My wife and I had an extensive talk about about how men and women hear things differently last night. When you talk to someone, there is often what you could call a "subtext" beneath what you are saying. Such as if you say: "The closet is not clean." The subtext could be "You haven't been doing your job in keeping it clean." Now what I was coming to realize that while both men and women can hear subtexts, women communicate largely on the basis of subtext. Jill would not say to Alice that "The closet Read more [...]

Part VIII – Haman in Geopolitics

The discussion of Haman is important not because he's the only kind of power player out there, but because he is the primary one that can stop you and hurt others. The people that are just out to save their own necks cannot compete with kind of respect, sacrificial ethic and God-breathed talent you should bring to a situation. Moreover invidual politics with Haman are representative of the way that geopolitics work as well. The devil is always trying to bring "Haman" governments into power. Those Read more [...]

Part VII – Shrewd as Serpents: Dealing with Haman

With this seeming paradox, Jesus gives one of the most important nuggets of wisdom for dealing with the powers of this world. As Christians we find ourselves in a unique place on the political chessboard. We will most certainly be hated more than anyone else by the Haman figure in the organization. If this person gains power, not only will we be in jeopardy, or near slavery, our bosses are in trouble from the ambition of the Haman figure, and so is the entire organization. Yet, we are likely the Read more [...]

Part VI – Principalities and Powers

In the church age, God's kingdom confronts the demonic powers which rule the world. Although Jesus' death and resurrection stripped them of their right to control it, until the church comes into an area and removes them, they rule by default. The natural order of the world has a spiritual order behind it. Moreover the spiritual order has great influence over how the natural order will align. The two are deeply intertwined. The church has recently started to recognize that these so called "principalities" Read more [...]

Part V – Eras of Church History

After the resurrection, the army of God's church begins to advance and incrementally changed the dymanics of the world. We see history unfolding in phases where each phase takes signficant steps toward a beautiful and righteous people which, having come from love for and slavery to evil, vindicates the character of God forever. The fact that they have repeatedly chosen Him over everything that the devil could do to them or offer them, is deeply touching to God, and a people that fulfills this in Read more [...]

Part IV – The Cross and the Kingdom

When Jesus comes, it is more than a book end on a failed age: 4000 years where God used various strategies to get man, especially Israel, to do what he had planned all along. If that were the case, I believe God could have had Jesus go to the cross almost immediately in history. So I view the preceding history, as necessary, not accidental, even if we don't fully understand all of the reasons for it. When Jesus comes it is a direct confrontation of Satan's power. It is also the highest stakes moment Read more [...]

Part III – God Moves the Battle Forward in Ancient History

God’s flooding of the Earth was basically the expected result from the fall of man – man under the devil’s rule becomes more and more evil to the point where God has to wipe him off the face of the planet.However, rather than totally end the war, God chooses to save one man and seemingly start over.Why this way?Perhaps it is because Adam and all of his progeny were born by natural descent, but Noah and his had to in a sense be born by faith.Therefore it’s not just literary flourish when the Read more [...]

Part II – The Beginning of Spiritual Warfare

In the beginning, God created the earth and placed the man on it.When He placed man there, it’s clear from His command to “take dominion” that man was the intended agent in a conflict against the devil. This is further reinforced by the fact that man is made in God’s “image” or literally “idol.” An idol represents a god on earth, and man represents the Living God on earth. Why would God engage in a proxy battle with the devil instead of direct confrontation? I believe it’s because Read more [...]

Part I – Models of Divine Power

There are several "Christian" views of who is in control of the world and history: God is in complete control. Whatever man or the devil want are incidental, because God is the ultimate cause of everything. This view is normally associated with Calvinism, but has seeped through to form the backdrop of most people's understanding. The devil is effectively in control. God set up history, but right now is the devil's era, and Christians just have to hold on for dear life until the end. This Read more [...]

Things to Understand About Prophecy

Prophecy and Your Walk with God Many Christians are uncertain or inexperienced with personal prophecy, but I have found that prophecy can fast track your walk with God if you utilize it properly. If I speak a word over you, I want you to have a healthy, positive experience, so here are some guidelines to help.   The Purpose of Prophecy Prophecy is someone listening to God so that they can speak his heart over you. All prophecy, like all ministry, however, must pass through a human vessel Read more [...]

Thoughts on Being Charismatic

How do you strike the balance between being a wild charismatic church and a dead one? I think there are a number of underlying tensions that must be explored. 1. Hunger. I firmly believe that we are supposed to "earnestly seek the Spiritual gifts, especially prophecy" The orientation of pursuit of a deeper supernatural encounter with God is critical. Yet, the difficulty is that this is a defining feature of the Charismatic thing we don't want to be. We need to be able to distinguish the healthy Read more [...]

Starting a Revolution

Part of what is on my heart is a shift in the current Church culture because of the changed lives that will result: A "Reformation" or a "Revolution" Starting a revolution requires several key components. 1. The right cultural moment. Every indication around us is that many many in the Church are very hungry and don't know where to turn. 2. A highly dedicated and persistent group of men. 3. A message. These men unite around a core set of principles. Specifically they agree about what needs Read more [...]

The ‘Come Follow Me’ Principle

Discipleship is a thorny and difficult to discuss issue in the Body of Christ. First of all there is argument about the actual meaning of the word "discipleship." Some people think of it as a state of personal total submission to God. You have "discipleship" when you are a sold out believer. This is generally what's meant by the book by Dietrich Bonhoffer "The Cost of Discipleship." Additionally people may think of it as a personal process of submission to God. On the other hand others Read more [...]

The Conversion Process

Since the advent of the Reformation the Church has recognized the importance of being converted, born again, etc. However our understanding of what this process is and means has gone through a long development process. In the early days of the Reformation, everyone in a locale went to church, so they were always preaching real conversion to those who attended. They expected this conversion to be a process, not a definite moment per se. In the 19th century Finney began to place an emphasis on a Read more [...]

God and Sentimentalism

I don't know about you, but sometimes I am really turned off by sentimentalism. You know, those remarks like, "Bless his little heart, isn't he just an ANGEL?!? Look at him. Isn't that the most PRECIOUS thing you have EVER seen in your LIFE?!?" Even as a mother of three tender boys under 4yrs old, I still can't always relate to the remarks, trinkets, and momentos that mothers store away painstakingly in fragile boxes or baby books to immortalize their infant's lives. It's not that I don't like memorabilia Read more [...]

Theology and Control

A friend, struggling with making a wise decision about a career move, told me recently, “The other day I prayed that I wish God had made me a robot so He could just tell me what to do and I could obey. Then I’d feel secure.” This made me reflect on the issue of control, and God’s dealings with it. Historically, control in the sense my friend was talking about has not been a good thing. I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, but it seems that God did not make us to be Read more [...]

Body, Soul (and Spirit?)

The words, body, soul, and spirit are commonly used in Christian language to express the totality of man -- his whole being. This has led some to believe that there are actually three faculties in existence. But closer analysis suggests that these words do not refer to three planes of existence (ontology) but rather three types of desires (morality): carnal, rational, and gospel. Put another way, we use the words body, soul, and spirit metaphorically, and by convention. If we were using them literally, Read more [...]

Because He Loved Not the Bretheren

One of the truly notable men of faith of the 20th century was Jack Coe. He moved in a realm of miraculous healings that his otherwise impressive peers of the 50's only wished they could. Sadly, he died at age 38 of an illness that he had seen many people healed of. Before his death a prophecy was given that he had to correct three areas of his life, or his ministry would be cut short. The first of these was that he "loved not the bretheren." Unquestionably he loved the lost, but his esteem for other Read more [...]

Unity

One of the themes of the Latter Rain was unity. The idea developed that if you could have everyone in one accord, you would go much deeper in the Spirit, and that discord was deadly to God's purposes. The analogy was made with the Tower of Babel--because they had perfect unity they could do anything. The Tower of Babel is not a particularly good place to find ideas that please God, but clearly Jesus did pray for his people to be in unity in John. So I do think there is something powerful when you Read more [...]

Thoughts on Revival Services

I interviewed an old-time Baptist evangelist once. He was 88 at the time, and this was 5 years ago. He was a really great guy, who basically planned to win souls right up until he died. Being that old he had lived through a number of eras in American church history, and one of the most helpful observations he gave was about the effect of Television on meetings. Before TV people were happy to come out night after night to do anything because if you were holding a special service in town, it would Read more [...]

Home/Cell Groups

One idea that his been floating around the church for about 30 years, but it still amorphous is the "home group" or "cell group." The two are not synonymous although they may the same thing in a particularly incarnation. A cell church is really a church of churches. This cell idea was popularized by Paul Yonggi Cho's Korean megachurch, and has been a part of other megachurches especially in the less economically developed areas. In addition there is the idea of the "home church" which is based on Read more [...]

A Survey of Church/Family Worldviews

We live in a era when the basic building block society -- the family -- is breaking down. This family disfunction is invading the church. Different segments of the church have recognized different aspects of the problem and are addressing it in different ways. Here is a brief survey of family approaches I'm familiar with: The Vision Forum/Conservative Calvinist Approach -- Some of the best Christian family resources available today are produced by a group called the Vision Forum. Doug Phillips Read more [...]

The Fire and The Altar

I've been doing a lot of study of the history of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement lately. As I look at the current state of the church I feel a real burden to do something about it, and I know God is calling us forward into that, but it hasn't taken shape yet. It's in the preparation stages. Part of that preparation for me has been examining what has happened in the past 100 years. How did we get here? Revival dynamics are often talked about in terms of wine skins. The Holy Spirit moving in Read more [...]

Calvinism, Conclusions and Confusion

I've said before that it is rare to meet a consistent Calvinist. Within Calvinist circles there is a divide between hyper-Calvinists and other moderate forms. Iain H. Murray, whose work and life mission I really appreciate, has a book called "Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism" in which Murray revitalizes Spurgeon's moderate positions. Charles Spurgeon himself used the hyper-Calvinist label as a way of separating his own evangelistic views from the non-evangelistic Calvinism he saw in extremists around Read more [...]

Exercising the Gift of Discernment

A lot has been said in the past 15 years about prophecy and the prophetic. There are numerous books and teachings on hearing the voice of God. These often focus on the Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, and Prophecy, but little is ever said of the Gift of Discernment. I have repeatedly heard people over the years say "Where is our discernment?" however. Perhaps what this is indicating is that the Gift of Discernment is something that has not been restored to the church in the fullness that the others Read more [...]

Return of the Thunder

Rob Rufus recently prophesied that the church had been going through a dry spell with limited experiences of the presence of God. It was confirming to hear this coming from a voice from such a different location. For the past few years I have been feeling like "nothing is going on" in the church. This is not to say that nothing at all is happening, or that we have not been advancing the gospel around the world, but that there was no movement which was positively moving the character of the church Read more [...]

Paul Washer

A speaker at a Southern Baptist youth convention named Paul Washer has stirred up a bunch of controversy by giving a tough message at a youth convention. Here are some thoughts about that message: Positive Points Paul Washer's basic point that Salvation is accompanied by holiness and a real pursuit of God was correct, and a lot of people need to hear that message and can be born again because of it. He actually preached from the heart and with conviction,which unfortunately seems to be fairly Read more [...]

Apostolic Movements

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a term used by Peter Wagner to describe current trends in church movements, particularly with regard to a "five-fold" ministry and church polity. These NAR movements are supposed to be led through relationships instead of structures, and generally follow the Ephesians 4:10 pattern. This concept first emerged as part of the Latter Rain movement. The Latter Rainers had the original revelation of the "five-fold" but this began to develop in unhealthy ways as the Read more [...]

Pastors and Narcissism

Most people forever live on the follower side of leadership. On the follower side, it's easy to criticize because you do not have the responsibilities or understand the special temptations which relate to it, much less have to face them. One of the special temptations or weaknesses associated with the pastoral role is what the world calls Narcissism. Although I probably will use the term a bit creatively, I think it's a good umbrella for a specific and real pastoral pitfall. I had a pastor once Read more [...]

Signs You Might Have Pride

On two separate occasions people have confronted me directly about having a "pride problem." The first was when I was still in High School by a youth leader who was concerned about me. She meant well, but I really had no capacity to understand what she was talking about or suggesting to me. Later, after college, a friend called me out on the same thing. By this time I was able to hear it, and although I don't remember the specific examples he used, I accepted his assessment and allowed that to start Read more [...]

Evangelical Ph.D Programs

There are many evangelical schools for training ministers, thereby offering the Master of Divinity degree, but comparatively few that offer the Doctor of Philoophy (Ph.D) or Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) Here is the list of accredited programs. I am not counting here Missions degrees or Leadership degrees. Of these, which are evangelical of some stripe? For purposes of this discussion, I'm focusing on Bible or Theology related Ph.Ds, not missions, etc.   Southern Baptist Schools Southeastern Read more [...]

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People (Reflections on the Theodicy)

This is the question which seems to plague a lot of people -- Why bad things happen to good people? It's a tricky question. Too often, it seems that the standard Christian answer comes back to some form of  "We don't know. They just do. Worship God anyway." Or worse yet, "All thing work together for good, so God has a good purpose in your bad thing." I do not find these answers very satisfying, do you? Before we set about answering the question why bad things happen to good people, we should Read more [...]

The God Who is Near

In 1998 I was in a Paul Cain meeting which radically reshaped my life. Why did it affect me so? Because the way he used his gift was so dramatically revelatory of the love and nearness of God. Suddenly, in one moment, you realize that any goodness or nearness you had previously understood of God grossly underestimates His true glory. For a lot of people, including me, it's actually more than our character is capable of handling. Although I did not want or intend to, I became too stuck on Cain himself, Read more [...]

Dangerous Trends in the Church

The contemporary church appears to be at a crossroads. The legendary figures of the World War II generation are passing off of the scene. These figures, the greatest of whom was Billy Graham, anchored the church for more than half a century. Raised in the fundamentalist context of a long gone time, and baptized into the post WWII revival, they were strong defenders of an evangelistic and strongly orthodox conception of reality. It was in their generation that fundamentalism became evangelicalism Read more [...]

The Role of Imagination/Fiction in Christian Living

With the advent of the Christian movie industry, especially "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" and "The Lord of the Rings," more and more Christians are getting into fiction and fantasy. This has some people worried. Tales with magic, imaginary creatures, and unreal environments often bring the temptation of fundamentalism close to many of our doors... "It isn't of God, don't get into it!" But is this necessarily the case? Let's momentarily put aside the fact that there are good reasons for Read more [...]

A Conservative Education

The past 20 years has seen a closing of the ranks among liberals in the American University setting. It's long been an open secret that colleges were liberal, and of course the liberals attributed this to the fact that smart people were liberal. Once you get an education, of course you go liberal. It's recently taking a more sinister turn. Ward Churchill is of course the most striking example. Here is someone who thinks that the victims of 9/11 were morally equivalent to the rulers of the Nazi party. Read more [...]

Movies a Christian Can Enjoy

As the film industry continues to produce movies with no morality, a pagan morality, or which are otherwise unenjoyable to the Christian who is pursuing God, it has become of more interest to me to find Movies which support a Christian worldview. This does not mean that life is sanitized, but that theme of the movie overall supportive or revelatory of ideals we should appreciate as Christians. Many of these are war movies, I guess partly because the struggle of good versus evil is one of the last Read more [...]

Politics and the Meaning of Life

We are locked in a struggle with evil that operates on the macro level as well as the micro. The very systems in which we live either encourage righteousness and salvation, or they militate against it. They either promote God and therefore human prosperity, or they undermine it. So the struggle for people's lives is manifest in governments, business, and every other kind of institution. The enemy is eager to crowd these fields with his people who will lead us to destruction as fast as they can get Read more [...]

Thoughts on the State of Worship Music

Thirty years ago, there was no such thing as "Christian Contermporary Music" (CCM), and it has only been in the past fifteen that "Worship" has really emerged as a music style. Musical options were limited to the traditional Southern and Black Gospel genres and then all kinds of worldly music. Why is this important to note? Music is so deeply connected to the spiritual realm that I would suggest that all music is spiritual. Whatever you listen to, you take in the spirit of that music. So even music Read more [...]

Reflections on Growing in Prayer

I just have a couple of thoughts on prayer. When I was younger I remember a friend saying that she was a Bible person and I was a prayer person.... My prayer life at that time was non-existent minus the few times when things got so bad that I would actually spend more than a few minutes asking for help. Now this was not because I did not believe in prayer, but because I really did not have any broader experience of prayer. Then I read a book by Jim Cymbala which posited prayer as the answer to most Read more [...]

Toronto and Brownsville

In 1994, God did something special at the Toronto Airport Vineyard. Likewise, in 1996, God showed up at the Brownsville Assembly of God. Although a lot of what you will find on the internet is purely against Toronto, and some are uncritical proponents, I think we should have a more measured approach. I believe that part of how we measure a revival is through retrospective review of it's impact. The real criticisms of these movements seem to center around the "manifestations" which occurred. These Read more [...]

The Five-Fold Ministry

The idea of a five-fold ministry has caused some consternation among not just evangelicals but also classic Pentecostals. I was talking to a brother recently from the Pentecostal Holiness denomination who was upset because their denomination seemed to be pushing everyone to be like "Apostle" Ron Carpenter, who has one of the largest churches in the denomination. Wayne Grudem, who is generally open to a Charismatic understanding of the Scripture, also does not give high marks to the idea of a modern Read more [...]

The Problem with Scholarship

So I recently found out that I need to review my Hebrew for an upcoming class. I got out my old Hebrew book and started to review. I quickly found myself lost in details as I tried to capture the big picture. I was swimming in exception cases on Dagesh Fortes before I knew it. Nevermind nouns and adjectives. This kind of approach is typical to scholarly literature. It's hard to see the forest for the trees. I remember in College, the hardest class I ever took was statistics. It got so bad that I Read more [...]

Bible Translations… Argh!

In the time of Martin Luther, the Bible could be found chained to the Pulpit inaccessible both because of it's language and it's location. It has been pointed out that this was also figuratively true -- that the Church held sole control over the Scripture and its interpretation and it was Luther who unchained it. He translated it into the language of the people, and he also taught them to live by it and from it. This was a very dangerous thing as far as Satan was concerned. He has fought long and Read more [...]

Thoughts on Charismatic Bible Interpretation

In the last post on this topic, I was touching on various approaches to the Bible. I'd like to hone in a bit more on the crux of what I'm grappling with. There exists today a tremendous gap between Charismatics and Evangelicals in their approach to Scripture. So I'm a hard core Charismatic with an evangelical background at an evangelical seminary. No wonder I'm living in tension. Why the tension? Well on the one hand the best of evangelical preaching and thought is very grounding. It's straightforward. Read more [...]

The State of Arminianism

Following on the previous discussion, the question arises as to, Who are today's Arminians and what are they doing? Fundamentalist Wesleyan Vic Reasoner publishes the Arminian Magazine and is the leader among a group of articulate individuals who understand theology and contend for Wesley's vision. In his book, The Hope of the Gospel: An Introduction to Wesleyan Eschatology, Vic Reasoner shows how Arminianism naturally leads to a victorious postmillennial approach to history. I would love to Read more [...]

The Resurgence of Calvinism

Calvinism is increasingly becoming identified with contemporary evangelicalism. Let's look at some of the evidences: Britain, after 200 years of Methodism, has emerged with an almost exclusively Calvinist evangelical community. The Southern Baptist church, the largest American evangelical denomination,was for more than one hundred years essentially Armianian but is having a resurgence of Calvinism. The Presbyterian Church of America, strongly Reformed in doctrine,  has become the de facto Read more [...]

20th Century US Revival Movements

1906 - Azusa Street -- Started the Pentecostal Movement.  Speads like wildfire around America and around the world for decades to come. 1950s - Healing Revival -- Brought Divine healing to America. 1950s - The Latter Rain -- Contemporary to the Healing Revival.  Eventually reshaped the vision of church. 1960s - The Charismatic Movement -- The Holy Spirit invades the traditional church. 1970s - The Jesus Movement -- Massive numbers of hippies get saved in Pentecostal revival as the hippie Read more [...]

Reading The Bible

Reading the Bible is not as simple as it sounds. I think the hardest thing is that we bring so much to it through our unknown pre-suppositions. Different parts of the Body of Christ use different hermeneutical systems. The way you read the Bible will underlie your entire Christian experience, also entire movements. Now that I've been under several systems, I've developed a real interest in starting from the best possible angle. Here are several approaches used today: Text and Background -- Read more [...]

Prophets That I Know About

The prophetic movement began in 1948 with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. A group of Pentecostal Bible students from the Sharon Orphanage and Schools began fasting after some of their leaders had driven to Vancouver to see William Branham in person. Branham's gift was so amazing that they began to seek God to see similar results. Several weeks into the fast, there was an powerful outpouring of personal prophecy, and several other things. These events became the Read more [...]

Post-Reformation Hermeneutics

In the last post, I talked about various contributions made to Christian epistemology through Church History. Upon the core of post-Reformation Epistemology is hermeneutics. The seminal feature of the Reformation was its emphasis on the importance of Scripture for determining the truth, and therefore the great determinant factor in such a context is the method of obtaining truth from the Scripture-Hermeneutics. What Martin Luther initiated in his protracted struggle with the Catholic hierarchy was Read more [...]

Christian Epistemology and Church History

One's epistemology, or method of ascertaining the truth, is the foundation stone of all understanding. Not only is our epistemology the foundation of our own personal understanding, it is the foundation of culture. Culture, in turn, is decisive force in human history. It is through culture that the Christ is either corporately resisted or corporately welcomed, and it is therefore culture to which God's hand of divine government ultimately responds. If history turns on our corporate method of obtaining Read more [...]

A Vision of Church

No Substitutes I believe the church in America is in a moment of transition and also in a moment of emerging hunger, and the current season of my life has caused me to share in this hunger. I have been exposed to radically different expressions of what church is supposed to be, and while each has elements which I cherish, none is really satisfying. A new paradigm must emerge which leverages the best of existing paradigms and perhaps other features which have not yet been introduced to the church. The Read more [...]